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Prix 1987 - 2007

Ars Electronica Linz & ORF Oberösterreich

Alan Price

TARTARUS is a real time 3D simulation in which the viewer interacts with a virtual character. Traversing an infinite interior structure of dark rooms and dilapidated staircases, the “absurd man” is destined to carry his burden in the form of a wooden chair throughout the space, guided by the viewer’s prompts.

It is an exploration of an exercise in futility. As the viewer moves the character through the space, the perpetual replication of his environment is discovered. Iterations of the chair begin to accumulate, eventually building up to an impasse. At this critical point, the obstacles fade and the cycle is repeated. The absurd man becomes a celebration of his fate as we rationalize the tormented plight of the individual.

TARTARUS incorporates real time 3D graphics and game engine technology. Facial expressions are procedurally driven and respond to the location and prompting of the viewer’s position in the scene. The virtual camera is in constant motion, programmed to follow the character and navigate within the confines of the architectural space. Over two dozen animation sequences are randomly accessed and blended to control the character in response to the viewer’s interaction and to the geometry of the environment. High Level Shading Language pixel shaders are utilized to render high definition of surface features on the character’s skin and clothing. Open Dynamics Engine (ODE) is implemented for dynamic interaction with the chairs that accumulate in the scene. This project was developed over a three-month period in 2006.